[wp-hackers] WordPress and Poisonous People

Ryan McCue lists at rotorised.com
Thu Apr 1 09:05:08 UTC 2010

Hello hackers,

I'm sure the majority of you don't have any idea who I am. Quick
background: I post very occasionally to this mailing list, though I do
work with WordPress quite a bit. The reason that I post only very
occasionally here is that I like to keep it proportional to the amount
that I've contributed to WordPress. I feel that my one or two posts a
year is proportional to the 6-7 commits to my name (for anyone looking,
search for "rmccue" and "rmmcue").

This opinion is based on a talk by Brian Fitzpatrick and Ben
Collins-Sussman on Poisonous People. (If you haven't seen it, I'd
recommend watching it [1] ) In the talk, Brian and Ben talk about how
people can be attention drains to projects. They also discuss mailing
list etiquette, which includes the "noisy minority effect". This refers
to when people can be discussing a topic, and the debate may look even
handed, however, given a closer look, it ends up being a small amount of
people who are on one side. They also mention as part of this the need
to *not* reply to every message.

The main point they raise is that there can be people who though
capable, don't contribute to the software. These people are willing to
complain about the software, but rarely contribute. These people tend to
drain attention and focus away from the project itself, and more
importantly, away from the developers. As evidenced by the stats for
this month, this appears to be happening on this list. A small minority
of the contributors to this list appear to be creating a large amount of
noise with no real progress, and as such are becoming drains on the
community. These contributors, while posting a lot to the mailing list,
don't contribute much to WordPress itself. They contribute the majority
of posts to the list, with the next largest contributors being so as
they're replying to this small minority and attempting to control it.

I'd personally like to see this stop, as this list has become extremely
unreadable because of this. There is way too much noise on this list,
and a very small amount of signal. These contributors are draining the
attention of several core developers, and plenty of other developers
too. If you think you are one of these people, please try and tone it
down a bit. Although the list is unproductive because of these
contributors, they is still very passionate about WordPress, and it
would be a shame to lose them from the community. Additionally,
regardless of whether you think you are one of these people or not,
please **don't respond to this message**. Even if you agree or disagree
or otherwise, please respond to me off-list if you must.

To anyone who made it this far, thank you for reading. I really hope
that this can be resolved, and we can go back to being a very productive
list and one that I actually enjoy reading.

[1]: <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-F-3E8pyjFo>

Ryan McCue

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